Build Thread The Search for the Perfect Trail Buggy


eternal noobie
Staff member
Oct 12, 2010
Toquerville UT
maybe I missed it, but can the trans/t-case come out the bottom? it's a pita to bring them out the top through a "window" after taking the interior out

Pull the skid, pull the crossmember...the t-case "should" come out the bottom, as should the trans. However, the interior seat/dash brackets will be removable so they could come out the top as well. Advantages to's a PITA regardless :)

Solid mounting everything? I think I missed the motor mounts.

Rich is solid mounting everything (Jesse does this for all his comp builds too). Mine is on poly bushings (triangulated).


Spotter Required
Nov 10, 2020
Finally finding time to pay attention to this thread. Great info! A couple questions.
I have never actually seen a true definition of track width. I think it is outside of tire to outside of tire but I’ve heard it said center of tire to center of tire. Which is it?

Rich, while on the phone last week you mentioned your front steering ram mount. Can you post a couple close ups?



Loves Light Bars
Nov 9, 2020
usually people refer to track width as sidewall to sidewall. then you also have wms-wms (wheel mount surface to wheel mount surface) which usually used for just axle width


Spotter Required
What does it take to build/design/find the perfect trail buggy or vehicle? This is a question that I not only get asked, but also ask myself. I have been wheeling for most of my life, and when I say that, I actually mean it. I got in my first roll over at 2 years old on the Rubicon and I have been hooked ever since. My dad, known affectionately in the industry as Big Rich, appropriately named be Lil' Rich, and I have been tied up in Competition Rock Crawling since the second event ever, Warn Nationals in Johnson Valley circa 1999ish? I started at these event doing trash detail and moving crap all over the mountain in hopes of quietly learning from one of the best drivers I have ever met, Bob Roggy (At the time, part of the Pirates of the Rubicon). I grew up with that group, and a couple others; wheeling and sitting co-pilot for years but watching every move, driving technique, and reason why one would build certain traits into vehicles or attack certain obstacles certain ways.

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My first personal build started in 1999 with an FJ40. I saw Tracy Jordan at an event and decided that I wanted a vehicle like his; so at 15, I set out to build a replica FJ40 from my favorite driver at the time. I didn't take any photos, but I knew where every piece of tube, wire, and pro trick was in his rig. He was also nice enough to talk to some unassuming 15 year old about all his little tricks in his rig, so that made it easy as well. I didn't get any photos of the build, it ended before I got to drive it. Apparently it was a stolen vehicle when I bought it from the shady figure in Las Vegas and it was removed from my property. I remember being so crushed, put every dollar I had into it.

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The next rig was just a Dodge D-50, not much of anything. Just enough to get out and enjoy the outdoors, small body lift and 33's. After that I tried my hand at my very own buggy. By this time (2001) fabricators were throwing everything they could at the idea of evolving rock crawling "Tech" if there ever was such a thing at the time. I am not entirely sure who made the first full tube buggy but they were being built and scrapped for newer tech every month or so. It was crazy. I decided to throw my ideas at the buggy build craze. A two seat, front engine (They were pretty much all that way at the time), tube buggy with a light weight Oldsmoblie 215 Cubic Inch aluminum block V8, with a VERY narrow rear end so it tracked better through cones. The problem was it didn't climb very well because of the narrow rear end. The chassis was modelled after a Shannon Campbell chassis, since at the time, he was my favorite driver. Since we finished it in 2002, it has been bastardized and rebuilt about 200 times. So much so, that it is completely unrecognizable and I have no idea where it is now. Heck by the time I was done with it, I had 3 builders who had helped me finish it (Monkey Fab-not sure where he is these days, S&N Fab-Jason has been in and out of the sport for some time, and HallStyle Racing-John Hall now races in 4400). Shortly after I was done I saw Tiny, the nelson built buggy driven by Jon Bundrant and the entire buggy building crazy went back into a tailspin for even more redneck renditions.

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At this moment, is where I drew the line in the sand. I didn't want a purpose built vehicle for competitions since I didn't compete. It made no sense for me, plus by this time I had a pretty good hold on testing and helping develop new products for the jeep and aftermarket industry. From there I had built a couple more, helped build a couple more, and raced a TON. Not really into the competition side of driving, since I built courses for W.E.ROCK and spotted for numerous teams throughout my career. I spent most of my time wheeling with friends and camping, but in the competition aspect I was spotting for Team RedBull, Jesse Haines, and others.
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I also co-drove with Pistol Pete in the #2 trophy truck as well as some other fun racing experiences.
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Drove my own rig and finished King of the Hammers.
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It was fun, but the entire time I was thinking of the next big evolution of the sport. At this same time, I decided to move to Alaska (2011) and we built what in my opinion was an extreme overland vehicle.
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This was a fun build and what we were able to see was amazing but our time in Alaska was limited and the move back to the lower 48 was inevitable.
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It's not rock crawler info but i had to share, when you were talking about your Dad, Big Rich and him calling you little Rich I had to laugh! See my dads name is Richard and he named me Richard so I was all ways little Richard. And when my Grandma was still alive (bless her heart ) She always call my dad Dicky and you guessed it she always called me little Dicky😜
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